The Community-Led Total Sanitation project (CLTS) of the Kwara State University (KWASU), against all the daunting challenges, is making a difference for rural communities across the six geo-political zones in the country.
While there has been a significant improvement with regard to toilet facilities and general sanitation practices in the urban and metropolitan areas, open defecation has remained an albatross for most rural communities in Nigeria.
It was on the backdrop of this menace that the Environmental Health Science Department of the Kwara State University (KWASU) decided to launch a Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) project that would address this deleterious and inimical practice which continues to gain currency across many rural communities.
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) was pioneered by Kamal Kar (a development consultant from India) together with VERC (Village Education Resource Centre), a partner of WaterAid Bangladesh, in 2000 in Mosmoil, a village in the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh, whilst evaluating a traditionally subsidised sanitation programme.
According to Dr Henry Olawale Sawyer, a senior lecturer and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Science at the Kwara State University (KWASU), the initiative of the CLTS project was borne out of the concept promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) with a specific aim of eradicating the practice of open defecation.
“The concept CLTS which is Community-Led Total Sanitation is actually a concept that has been embraced by WHO with the aim towards the eradication of open defecation.”
“And so, in 2013, Our Department which is the department of Environmental Health Science at Kwara State University (KWASU), we thought that one of the obligations of environmental health science profession involves visiting houses in assist to correct some social requirements in houses, one of which is assessing toilet and sanitation around the home.”
“We felt that it would be an expeditionary initiative if we can train our students to be able to go into a rural community in which case we know that the larger number of our rural communities and villages in Nigeria do not have proper toilet or sanitation education and awareness initiative.”
Due to the contingent need to connect with and establish a social baseline with the Community before embarking on these projects, the actualization of any Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) exercise has always been characteristically fraught with daunting challenges. These challenges also include social mobilization and financial implications.
As of the year 2020, the Kwara State University CLTS (KWASU CLTS) project has so far been responsible for the erection of over 113 toilet facilities in over 111 communities across all six geo-political zones in the country.
These Includes 9 in Bauchi, 1 in Delta, 4 in Edo, 7 in Ekiti, 6 in FCT (Abuja), 5 in Gombe, 3 in Jigawa, 14 in Kaduna, 1 in Ogun, 4 in Ondo, 14 in Osun, 8 in Oyo, 3 in Sokoto, 2 in Kano, 1 in Katsina, 2 in Kebbi, 2 in Kogi, 20 in Kwara, 3 in Lagos, 3 in Niger.
Dr Sawyer also added that they were not relenting and will continue to make their own contribution
“We’re not relenting, we will continue to make our own contribution, we believe that, that the society or the community will be better off and at some point, even the UNICEF and WHO will see our contribution. And we can gently work with such international organizations or even local agencies, sponsors and coordinator to want to come in and partner with us in a strong advocacy initiative.”
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